Cornichons (and a Very Passable Paté)

July 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

I mentioned I was growing cucumbers in the garden, but these aren’t any run-of-the-mill, expect-to-be-inundated-from-the-CSA-soon cucumbers. These are Parisienne Cornichon de Bourbonne cucumbers (see? fancy!), seeds purchased from here, whose sole purpose in life is to be made into cornichon pickles.

We went to Paris last year and every day we went to the corner market and bought baguettes, cheese, hard cider, paté, and other goodies and ate it for lunch wherever we wandered to that day. Lester and I passed out in a food coma in front of the Eiffel Tower. It doesn’t get any better than that. We brought back an entire suitcase full of food, including a four-pound loaf of Poilane bread and lots of paté. When we got back I made my own too. It turns out there isn’t a whole lot to making at least a Very Passable Paté: buy chicken livers super cheap from the Asian grocery store, saute in butter with shallots and herbs, and blend with more butter as needed. I made a plain one with cognac and a cranberry sage one. Scoop into jars and cover the tops with melted butter to seal it over, or do the same in muffin tins and pop out and freeze little individual serving paté pucks. I’m sure there’s more to making a fancy paté, but this works for me and my baguettes. So all I needed was the cornichons. (Yes, you can buy them in stores. No, that is not the point.)

A word to the wise: keep an eye on your cucumber patch. I skipped a day of picking, and the previous two days I might have picked in the dark by flashlight because of getting home from work late. So I was surprised by these spiny monsters lurking in my tangle of a cucumber patch:

Yes, that is a penny. So while these cucumbers are designed to be cornichons, they won’t stay small forever! They also get to be the right size a few at a time, so this is a recipe based on picking a few every single day and throwing them into a batch already going in the fridge rather than water bath canning a bunch all at once. This is not shelf stable.

For every jar:

  • teeny tiny cucumbers
  • white wine vinegar
  • a little bit of an allium: shallot, garlic, pearl onion, etc.
  • a sprig of thyme
  • a few peppercorns
  • a few mustard seeds
  • a few allspice
  • a few coriander seeds
  • a teaspoon of kosher salt for about every 4oz vinegar

I washed a few canning jars and lids (which can be previously used because they don’t need to seal), or you can even use some leftover other glass jars, in hot soapy water. Then I rinsed, then filled the jar with boiling water to overflowing and put the lid on loosely. In the meantime, I figured out that wearing kitchen/dishwashing gloves protected me from the cucumber’s spines while I rubbed them off with a vegetable brush (or just my gloved fingers on the really little ones). It is very fiddly and obsessive to get the spines off a bunch of tiny cucumbers one at a time, but you wouldn’t be growing your own cornichons if you weren’t fiddly and obsessive, now would you? I dumped the water from the jar, added the spices and salt and alliums, layered in the cucumbers, and poured in vinegar to cover. (This picture is an 8oz jar, so that is the goal size for these cucumbers or even a bit big!) Into the fridge, and no sampling for a whole week. They will turn from bright green to dull green.

If you were making this shelf stable, you would have to sterilize the jar and (new) lid, heat the brine, then pour the hot brine over the cukes in the sterilized jar, seal, and process for about ten minutes.

Et voila!

Worth the fiddling and obsession? I think so… How about you?

Cornichons (and a Very Passable Paté) on Punk Domestics

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